West End advocates gear up for BOCC meeting

Homeowners around the closed West End Golf Course are mobilizing for the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) special meeting on Tuesday, when commissioners are scheduled to discuss an issue related to the property.

“The men and women in the US military fought and continue to fight for our freedom,” Friends of West End organizer Stephanie Phillips wrote in a Memorial Day social media post that included a map to the Alachua County Administration Building. “Lets use our freedom to get a car load of friends and neighbors and voice our opinions at the June 1, 2021, Commission Special Meeting at 1:30 p.m.”

Tuesday’s special meeting agenda includes three agenda items:

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  • Urban design policies
  • Recreation future land use policies
  • Policy discussion on allowing RV parks in the urban cluster as transitional housing

The recreation land use item lists West End Golf Course as one of the affected properties.

“Recreation policies affect what can be done with the West End property when we defeat the current proposal,” a Friends of West End Facebook post said. “Urban Design policies affect the current and future proposals.”

At its Feb. 23 meeting the BOCC directed commission staff to bring back policy recommendations on the recreation future land use. The supporting documents show the recommendations, among other things, include establishing a recreational land use category with common standards and policies, which the staff report says do no currently exist.

While advocates are looking to spotlight the West End issue at Tuesday’s meeting, it will not determine the property’s fate. The developer withdrew the rezoning application last October, meaning the BOCC does not currently have a decision to make.

The battle over the property, which sits on West Newberry Road between Newberry and Gainesville, dates back to when the golf course closed in December 2019. Local homeowners organized to advocate against development and went on to secure legal representation, submit a counter-proposal and show up to protest.

Along the way, Friends of West End have picked up some high-profile backers, including state Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, who suggested the county buy the property.

“The county has money for Wild Places and Public Spaces,” he said at a West End meeting in February. “They have the resources if they want to dedicate them to this.”

The public can watch Tuesday’s special meeting on Cox Channel 12, Facebook or the county website.

The BOCC will take public comments in person and over the phone (800-876-7516). Face masks are now optional at the meetings, although the county “strongly recommends that those not vaccinated wear a mask.”

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